If you browse playrooms and toy collections online, I am sure you have seen the term “sheflie.” So what exactly is a shelfie you might wonder. A shelfie is essentially a styled photograph of what is on display on a shelf. I incorporate Shelfie Sunday into my weekly routine and use it as my day to do toy rotation. If you are unfamiliar with toy rotation, learn more here. Basic questions you might have about a shelfie: why do you need a shelfie, how do you style a shelfie, what do you include, how often do you change them, who enjoys this more the adult or child?
Do you NEED a shelfie, no of course not but we enjoy them so much. We used to have the fabric bins in a cubby filled to the brim with toys. The reality was that none of those toys were played with, they got lost in the those bins even with organizing which toys were in each bin. I started to incorporate a bit more of the Montessori shelf set up for my daughter about 3 years ago. Our shelves have adapted over time and now include a bit more Waldorf inspiration. The main difference in my opinion is that Montessori is more real life based and Waldorf incorporates more fairytale and make believe. My 4 year old’s imagination runs wild, so for us Waldorf inspired works well.
How do you style a shelfie? There are no rules but I will share how I typically style ours. The most important tip in my opinion is you do not need everything you own on your shelf, less is more at times. Don’t feel the pressure to include every item that you have, try to think of having small areas to invite your little one to play without feeling overwhelmed. For example, if you have a puzzle that has 5 different shapes for your toddler to do, when you first introduce the puzzle try only having 2 or 3 shapes out with the puzzle. This can help your child achieve mastery of those pieces before having the rest to contend with. I enjoy small baskets also, Montessori shelves typically refer to them as a treasure basket. For my youngest who is almost a year and a half this is a great learning opportunity. I alternate between color themed baskets, textures, or miscellaneous. We were gifted these beautiful baskets pictured below from Maple + Lark and they are my favorite small basket I have found yet. They have a nice sturdy structure but are still soft to the touch and are a perfect size for little ones to carry around and fill with goodies of their own. In my baskets I also will place activities, sensory items or a few things for an invitation to create.
Besides having organized baskets, I enjoy setting up scenes or small world play on our shelves. I like to pick a theme and run with that; within a theme I incorporate elements such as scenery, animals and structures. Items like the scenery helps with bring a shelfie to life and connect the animals to a small world. These scenes also often present opportunities to relate to a book. While we have Montessori and Waldorf inspiration, I classify our style as play-based learning. In my opinion setting up a scene and relating it to a story we have read is great for reading comprehension.
The reality of how often a shelf is rotated depends on each family. Our shelf often switches once a week but sometimes I will rotate midweek if they children don’t seem too engaged. We spend a lot of time in our playroom so a quick rotation of a few toys makes a huge difference. It often resets things and makes them feel new and fresh again! Sometimes I will go for less of a small world themed shelf and include more activities. Rotating to a work shelfie not only gives the toys a rest but also incorporates fun skill building activities.
As for who enjoys a shelfie more, the adult or the child that is hard to say, ha! A clean organized shelf is aesthetically pleasing to me and I am also a person that loves organization. I also enjoy knowing that the materials we own are used because we rotate through them versus toys getting lost. Even with all of that said, my children love them. They walk in the playroom and often go right to the shelves to see what is set up. I often find my 4 year old playing right at the shelf.
Look for my next post on FIVE Items To Build a Shelfie I have an affiliate code PLAYROOM to use at Maple + Lark for 10% off your order, go grab yourselves some baskets!